1. Baylor Bears– Art Briles is one of the best coaches in the country and has turned Baylor into a consistent contender for the Big 12 title. After losing Bryce Petty to the NFL, Seth Russell is next in line to be the starting quarterback. Baylor has led the nation in total offense in each of the last two seasons. The offensive line will return every starter along with a 1,000 yard rusher and two 1,000 yard receivers, Seth Russell will be just fine with such a strong supporting cast around him. The defense will get a big time star coming back in the fall and that’s defensive end Shawn Oakman. They enter the year as one of the favorites to get to the College a Football playoff
2. TCU Horned Frogs– They were in contention for the College Football Playoff last season and just missed it. TCU is poised once again to make a run to get to where they know they belong. Trevone Boykin was one of the most improved players in the country last season and is considered to be a Heisman contender this upcoming season. There is no shortage of talent for these Horned Frogs. Defense has been Gary Patterson’s strong point but this year will be different after losing both linebackers and a safety to the NFL. This is a very good football team that can compete with many teams in College Football and they’ll play with added motivation this year.
3. Oklahoma Sooners– Last season was a disappointing season for Bob Stoops and company. They entered the season with such high expectations but finished with an 8-5 mark and a 5-4 record in the conference. The old saying is still true. If you want to win your conference, you have to beat the teams in your conference. The talent is still there especially with running back Samaje Perine who had a breakout year in 2014. Stoops will have to replace four starters on the offensive line and fix a secondary that gave one too many big passing plays down the field. This could be a rebuilding year for the Sooners as many questions surround them.
4. Oklahoma State Cowboys– They had their worst season under Mike Gundy in 2014. Last year was considered to be a rebuilding season. Hopefully in 2015, we will see an improvement. Mason Rudolph will be the full-time starter at quarterback after leading Oklahoma State to a late season surge in 2014. He will have two solid receivers to get the football too and a four-star college recruit in Chris Carson will bolster the running game. After a lack of depth on defense, they look reloaded now. They can be a silent contender in the Big 12 and climb up in the rankings.
5. Texas Longhorns– Year two of the Charlie Strong era is set to begin. They have some impressive wins in 2014 but progress still needs to be made. The offense will be more up tempo and use a spread attack with Tyrone Swoopes under center. The defensive line will be the strength of the football team once again. The defense will carry the team as questions surround the offense for the Longhorns.
6. West Virginia Mountaineers– They had a bounce back season on offense last year after a sub par 2013. The offense will have a much different look about them in the fall. Star receiver Kevin White who the offense was built around is now in the NFL. Skyler Howard will be the guy under center for Dana Holgorsen. The running game will need to be more consistent and it can be especially if Rushel Shell is healthy. There are holes in the Mountaineers defense. They have a difficult time getting to the quarterback.
7. Kansas State Wildcats– They will always amongst one of the favorites to contend for the Big 12 title. To be competitive once again, Bill Snyder will have to fill some big holes. A quarterback, wide receivers and key guys in the front seven on defense are major voids for Kansas State. Kansas State will have a different look on offense. Usually, Bill Snyder’s teams are great when a guy he trusts is his quarterback. Kansas State will also have a new approach on defense with a lot guys gone. Despite losing playmakers on both sides of the football, never count a Bill Snyder-coached team out of the mix.
8. Texas Tech Red Raiders– They have no type of issue when it comes to scoring points and moving the football down the field on offense. Pits the defense that has the issues because they give up the big play down the field, they don’t tackle and they struggle to get off the field. They play very sloppy and that’s something Kliff Kingsbury will have to correct if they want to improve. Four offensive linemen return for Texas Tech but the offense will go as the quarterback goes. David Gibbs is now the new defensive coordinator after a year at the university of Houston. Gibbs is well-known as a coordinator that likes to create turnovers for the opponent. That’ll be the mantra this year.
9. Iowa State Cyclones– It hasn’t gone all that well for Paul Rhoads so far at Iowa State. Last season, the Cyclones finished the year ranked 89th in the nation in total offense. With an experienced Sam Richardson under center, Iowa State can improve greatly this year with Mark Mangino’s offensive scheme in tact for a season. Iowa State will have one of the best wide receiving corps in the Big 12 with playmaker Quenton Bundrage. The defense will look to improve just like the offense. The defensive line will be much improved. Paul Rhoads will enter the season on the hot seat as his team has gone 5-19 in the last two seasons.
10. Kansas Jayhawks– Charlie Weis is gone and David Beaty is now the head coach in Lawrence. He has a lot of work cut out for him and with just five starters total returning, the recruiting process is the only way that Kansas will be victorious. They will be inexperienced at wide receiver and offensive line as three starters are now gone on the o line. The strength of the team is the defensive line. The defense will also be a work in progress after losing both starting cornerbacks and safeties.
Prediction: I like TCU to bounce back and win the conference. Last year will add fuel to their fire and behind Trevone Boykin playing good football, they will be competitive. TCU will go as far as Boykin will take them. Despite losing some guys on defense, I think they can still get the job done and make plays.